Former Nintendo president Satoru Iwata outlined a "blue ocean" strategy with selling the Nintendo Wii, which is to say it was designed to tap into the "ocean" of potential customers outside the usual gamer sphere. Well, it turns out there's an untapped blue ocean of people who wanted Pokémon with guns, because the survival-crafting Poké-like Palworld is selling so fast it's putting hot cakes to shame.
How fast? This thing is already the fifth most-played game in Steam's history by concurrent players just three days after launch—3,000 more Palworlders at peak hours and it'll unseat Dota 2, while recent triple-A heavy hitters like Hogwarts Legacy or my beloved Baldur's Gate 3 and Elden Ring trail far behind.
What's more, this is "just" an early access launch, and many Steam games don't hit a concurrent peak until the second or third weekend after releasing. Whether Palworld keeps up that momentum remains to be seen.
Sales-wise they are printing money over at developer/publisher Pocketpair. This morning, the game's official Twitter account revealed that Palworld has surpassed 4 million copies sold, which is insane. For two quick points of reference, beloved cult classic NieR Automata hit 7.5 million copies sold last April after six years on the market, while Cyberpunk 2077's lauded expansion Phantom Liberty crossed the 5 million mark just this month.
Despite all that success, we weren't entirely sold on the game in our early access hands-on. PC Gamer contributor Lincoln Carpenter found that the survival crafting gameplay had some interesting ideas that could use more refinement, but the shock humor shtick ran thin pretty quick: "Watching that first Palworld trailer from 2021 was like seeing a picture of Bugs Bunny smoking weed and half-ironically thinking it's sick. Actually playing Palworld is like having to hang out for hours with somebody who's made Bugs Bunny smoking weed their whole deal."
Still, Palworld's main competition when it comes to full-3D open world Pokémon are some Switch games that are visibly falling apart at the seams. I have a friend who's an adult Pokémon Sardaukar, dutifully gritting his teeth and buying each new game full price only to tell me how much he hates it—Palworld and last year's Cassette Beasts show how much the people yearn for better Poké-likes.